tv [untitled] July 16, 2011 9:00am-9:30am PDT
mayor lee: thank you, everybody, for coming. i have asked for the roundtable because oftentimes, information about what we're doing this not get expressed in much detail for a lot of the emerging news outlets, so i wanted a special time with the asian roundtable press just to make sure you can get your questions answered about what we're doing and in particular, i wanted to talk about our pension reform, which is one of the most important things that i think i can contribute to the city as the mayor, and of course, what we're putting on the ballot in addition to that this november would be the street repaving bond. i will begin with the pension reform first and then talk about
the bond and attempt to answer any questions you have about things we're doing throughout my administration. in january, as you recall, i announced five high priorities, and pension reform was one of them. at the time, we looked at the numbers, how the cost of the city employees' pension was impacting our city fund. the to over $225 million a year had to be set aside just to pay for the increase in cost of pensions, and the tensions had to do with both the pension costs as well as the health care costs, and none of the health care costs have any coverage at all in our current budget. so i had to go to work on that very hard. we knew that it was going to take months and months of discussions, but we approached it in a way learning from what
had happened last year in proposition b, as you recall, it was a proposition that mr. adachi had proposed. it went to the november ballot and got defeated in a very sound way. as a city employee for 21 years, i observed very closely what happened, and he, of course, and bird so many san francisco employees -- angered so many send francisco employees. janitors, street cleaners, fire, police -- they all in very large voices resoundingly helped to defeat the proposal because they felt it was done in a way in which they were never included in that discussion. it was their lives, their pension that they feel that they earned in the city that they love, so they asked us, that they were willing to cut and
support a pension reform that would increase their contributions, if it was done the right way. we asked what the right way is, and they said the right way was to include all the unions and make sure it is something that they can pay attention to, that they understand and will participate in, so we did that in a very different way. we met with all the unions and discovered that the unions were very willing to give up more, to pay more into the pension program, so that the burden on the city's general fund would not be as great. we went about telling them what we had to do, and we created a pension reform measure that was flexible, that whenever the increase in cost went up because the investments were not as good, their cost of contribution would go up simultaneously. but they would also -- and this is a very important point --
when times are good and our investments do good, we pay less as a city into the fund. they pay less into the city, so they enjoy the good times, but they also share in the bad times. that flexibility is called the flow -- float in our charter, and that is a big distinction with the alternative proposal that is still being marketed by mr. adachi. it is important for you to know that. that distinction called vested rights. many cities across the country -- when they have not considered the employees' pension has a vested right, they get into legal trouble very quickly. that is why you see litigation around the country sponsored by employee groups who have never been consulted with, being demanded that they pay more into the pension, but there is no consideration of their vested
rights. that concept is embedded in our measure were in good and bad times, we share, so they get something out of this reform. because they get something out of it, they are vested in it. the unions continue to view, as i do, that the alternative proposal being sponsored by mr. adachi does not consider vested rights and therefore will be litigated. in that litigation, there is a great chance in my opinion that the proposal will lose. i am not the city attorney, but if you ask the city attorney, as we have -- and we have that assurance -- that if you do not consider the vested rights, there will be potentially successful litigation against it, so i wanted you to know that.
that is a point i continue to make. it takes a little time to understand the, but it is one where if you understand the world of public pension improvement reform, and that is why we have such heated debates in oakland and in san jose. very heated. the first thing the unions say is they will sue if we tried to logos on us without consideration, and now, everything is being settled. if you go into the details of the settlements, you will so i am speaking to in my lawyer had on. i also think our proposal is important to consider because we have employees agreeing to pay into their health-care trust fund for the first time